Empathy is a topic that has grown more popular in business circles over the past several years. More leaders realize that understanding and meeting the needs of their team not only helps to retain employees but raises productivity, innovation, and revenue. While the Customer Experience (CX) receives plenty of attention in business meetings, leaders sometimes fail to see how the employee experience guides CX.
Countless studies have shown the benefits of centering empathy in business settings, including better product development, improved job performance, and even competitive advantage. Archaic company policies revolve around leadership's assumptions—but a more empathetic model serves employees, creates flexibility, and positions individuals for success in their unique role.
The Employee Experience & the Customer Experience
We are all familiar with the discomfort of having a poor retail customer experience because an employee was unhappy or minimally trained. The CX and the Employee Experience (EX) are intrinsically linked, but not all businesses act like it. Implementing tools that make your employee's lives easier gifts them with a surplus of mental energy (rather than the deficit far too many busy professionals tolerate). This means they can go above and beyond to solve problems for customers and do so with a positive attitude. If you want to delight customers, the clearest route to CX success is getting your entire team on board. When they feel energized and empowered to do their jobs, that sense of ease will rub off during customer service interactions.
Transitioning to Remote Recognition
Employees thrive when they are appreciated for their efforts—one study even showed recognition was more important to workers than their pay rate. But with so many teams transitioning to fully or partially remote work, businesses are being challenged to adapt their recognition strategy.
A quick phone call to an employee can make all the difference. Providing a team member with a bit of schedule flexibility—especially for parents or caregivers—shows immense understanding and empathy. Some companies are opting for team-building exercises where employees get a chance to express what they're proud of and what they're excited to be working on. Different employees will appreciate different displays of recognition. Some may love the spotlight, while others are grateful for a quick thank you email.
Creating Avenues for Feedback
As with any relationship, employee relationships are a two-way street. Many leaders make the mistake of setting policies and providing little room for collaboration or feedback. This stern style of leadership often creates the very thing it aims to prevent: rebellion. Employees that don't feel heard will undoubtedly grow resentful and unproductive.
According to Businessolver’s Workplace Empathy Monitor, under half of all employees rate their companies as empathetic. Yet far more CEOs rated their companies as empathetic. With so many companies investing in training sessions, updating benefits packages, and granting remote work options, it isn't necessarily a lack of effort that's causing the disconnect. Often, it's a communication gap that prevents empathy between employees and leaders.
To remedy weak communication, businesses must purposefully build feedback avenues into their day-to-day operations. Employees who know they have a direct way to communicate problems or ask questions are far less likely to become overwhelmed and frustrated. Once these systems are in place, all participants must treat them seriously. This mutual respect builds trust and strengthens communication across your entire workforce.
Because empathy is a developmental characteristic, businesses can consciously work to build more empathetic teams and a kinder company culture. While adopting empathy as your next managerial project may not sound like a business-critical activity, it can open up doors and impact your bottom line in fascinating ways.
With a newfound appreciation for the employee experience, it's time to talk about the ever-important customer experience. You've heard plenty about how CX is the key to growing your business, but did you know there are tools specifically designed to maximize your efforts? Our free eBook with industry insight awaits your download.